By Janani Mohan
Here’s a fun fact about me — I’m a first-year MIP student at Stanford and I’ve never been to campus. I did grow up in the Bay Area and have probably enjoyed Stanford’s green lawns and palm trees at some point. But I’ve yet to step foot on campus since starting at Stanford.
I could get into how COVID-19 impacted my life, but let’s just say that there is a pandemic between me and in-person attendance for the Fall Quarter.
So I’ve been attending classes virtually from the other side of the country in D.C. Despite how strange 2020 has been, my program has taken steps to make us feel like a part of a close-knit class, whether we’re rooming in Escondido, or on the other side of the country (me!), or the other side of the world (one person in my cohort).
What’s a typical day in my life like? I’m usually juggling a few things: school work, courses, entrepreneurial work for a cybersecurity startup, leading an international nonprofit, and getting-out-the-vote work (since yes, on top of everything, this quarter also has our elections). Here’s how my day looks…
8:30 a.m.: This isn’t early, but technically, since I’m on the East Coast I’m getting up at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time every day. Or so I tell myself to feel more efficient. One of the perks of studying from the East Coast is that my classes never start until late morning, which means that I get the morning to catch up on emails, chats, and finish off some volunteer work.
I volunteer at Dweebs Global, an international nonprofit that provides free mentorship from resume edits to mental health help to those in need around the globe. I co-founded the nonprofit with my sister, Isvari, and brother-in-law, Nathan, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s very uplifting to start the day by working on something that serves others.
Some of our latest work has involved open-source technologies for visually-impaired people, a weekly speaker series with experts, and co-hosting seminars with universities. I usually have a couple of meetings in the morning to either interview new volunteers or organize projects to meet critical needs.
10:30 a.m.: I tell myself that I will do exercises and then proceed to eat an early brunch instead. Got to love lockdown! I also sometimes go out in our beautiful backyard to walk my dog, so that he stays fit. The weather is still beautiful this time of the year — with the leaves just starting to turn yellow — and I often go into a little bamboo grove behind our yard to enjoy the peace.
11:30 a.m.: I usually have classes starting at 11:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. in California). My first class of the week is Statistics. I love interacting with my cohort during class — they are so smart and supportive, and I’m lucky to be a part of this group! I also love Zoom’s chat function, which I use to “talk” to students.
Something I’ve learned to do is to hide the Elsa and Anna stickers on my bedroom’s walls while in class. My sister and I were into the “Frozen” craze, and that’s not something I need all my professors to see.
1:00 p.m.: On the couple days when my schedule is light, I’ll get done with classes at 1 p.m. and have the rest of the day to study, meet with friends, and work some more of course!
On a recent Wednesday, I had a work meeting with an article editor for Dweebs Global, worked on writing an advocacy letter against human rights abuses in Nigeria, and then had fun! I played board games virtually with friends, followed by chit-chatting with one of my MIP friends about everything and anything, including how well-behaved (not) our dogs are.
4:00 p.m.: I invariably end up attending office hours sometime in the afternoon to review materials for class. Some of the material is very new to me (like macroeconomics), while other subjects I need to improve on (like programming). Even though I’m miles away from Stanford, I feel like I’ve been able to develop new skills through our virtual discussions.
I sometimes also do some getting-out-the-vote work around this time. This election is critical, and I have been phone-banking in swing states to encourage people to vote.
5:00 p.m.: In the evening, as the sun is going down, I go for a drive out to the river and walk my dog. It’s very beautiful, and my sister and I enjoy singing music on the way. We listen to a ton of different music, since the lockdown has made music grow overly familiar. We started with Hindi music, then Spanish sports music, then English early-2000s music, and now we’re in our French phase. (And yes, I’m always happy to give and get recommendations about new songs!)
7:00 p.m.: I either help cook dinner or help eat dinner. I’m a notoriously bad cook — my record time for cutting garlic was thirty minutes — but it’s always fun to take some down-time with my family. We then eat dinner together, usually while chit-chatting about work or about how our days have been.
9:00 p.m.: I watch a TV show. I could say it is a deep documentary, but it’s usually some sort of action, fantasy, science fiction, or epic show to relax.
11:00 p.m.: And then it’s work-time again! I usually continue working on either academics (economics past midnight!) or volunteer work for Dweebs Global, or I do entrepreneurial work for my cybersecurity startup Udynamix until about 1 to 3 a.m. in the morning. I listen to music while working though, which although not at all productive, does make life a bit more fun!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Day in the Life of a Stanford MIP student, an executive director at Dweebs Global, an entrepreneur, and more. For more about my life feel free to contact me — I’m notoriously inactive on social media but you can reach me at email@example.com. Always available to chat about the MIP program or about a Day in Your Life.